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Enter The Matrix impressions (mild spoilers)

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Enter The Matrix impressions (mild spoilers)

Old 05-12-03, 01:53 AM
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Enter The Matrix impressions (mild spoilers)

Okay, I've played the Xbox version through once with Niobe. It took me around 8 hours on Normal. Each character has their own paths through the game, with most of the same levels but from a different context. Kinda short yes, but so much damn fun that there's plenty of incentive to revisit. Plus, there are literally layer upon layer of unlockables, hidden features and modes (including at least one biggie), and cheats. Here are some impressions.

The fighting is top-notch. Absolutely incredible. Buffy's fighting engine is deeper, but Matrix's is more intuitive and awe-inspiring. If you are even the slightest fan of the Matrix movies or martial arts flicks, you will flip over the action here. Fighting an opponent is like interacting with your very own HK fight scene, with crazy blocks, counters, reversals and multi-enemy attacks which are some of the most amazing things I've ever seen in a game. We're talking characters swatting away a punch with one hand and countering with the other, or something I've never seen before in any kind of fighting game....leg counters, where a character will lift one foot to block a low kick as they back away. Anyone remember the long fight scene at the end of Who Am I, where Jackie Chan fights the kickboxer and they deflect each other's kicks with their shins? Well, here it is, in interactive form. The choreography is pure Hong Kong (which makes sense, since Yuen Woo Ping did the choreography for the game as well as the movie) and some of it is so complex that using Focus to slow the action down will make your jaw drop as you witness the incredible collison detection and interactions between limbs. There are a couple of fights against
Spoiler:
the vampires
from the flick which I have replayed several times just because the choreography involved with both your martial arts and the enemies' is a blast to watch unfold.

The shooting action is mostly well done, especially when invoking your Focus. All the cool moves seen in the first Matrix movie are here, and the sound effects of the bullets whooshing by you as you evade them are complete 5.1 joy. It's not perfect though, especially when you run out of Focus in the midst of battle as your aiming goes to hell without it. And there are a couple of sniping levels which I will not complain about if I never have to see them again. But then again, there are some Chase levels where you have to escape from Agents which more than make up for the tedious levels.

The Focus gimmick is my new favorite gaming toy. Every game needs one of these. Simply hold down the Left trigger and you "Focus" your abilities, which is a more succint way of saying "bullet-time mode." While using Focus, any move you do is enhanced, whether it's hand-to-hand combat, firing a weapon, or simply running up and cartwheeling off the wall Trinity-style. And of course, time slows down making the cool move you're now doing THAT MUCH COOLER when you can see every frame of animation. Coupled with the cinematic camera and the HK-style physics (where enemies will spin through the air after being attacked, or flip backwards and land on their stomachs), each fight is crazed fun. Kung Fu fans will eat it up and wish there was a mode where all you did was fight, with none of the weapon filler. And whaddaya know....

When you beat the game with one character, a Training level opens. Solving a few "puzzles" in the first room unlocks the second area, which is a series of interconnected rooms with various gameplay features in each. And one of these is an elevated platform upon which you can choose to fight a barrage of foes, or a timed event in which you have to knock the enemies off the platform. This, my friends, is pure adrenaline fun. Your Focus is unlimited and so you can just bust out insane combos and attacks against mulitple opponents to your heart's content. I love the main game, but there are several areas where I wanted to skip the running and gunning and platforming and just FIGHT. So this feature is a fave of mine.

The movie footage is pretty impressive. Well-directed and acted and tying in to the movie at every possible chance. However, except for a short but very cool fight scene, the footage is all exposition. And Neo/Morpheus/Trinity make literally seconds-long cameos at best. Nice for Matrix fans, but don't expect Matrix 2.5 here. However, for Monica Belluci fans....

Spoiler:
Sure to cause much fervor in our gaming heartland, there is a long, lingering lesbian kiss scene in one of the movie sequences (between Jada Pinkett-Smith and Monica Belluci). Yes, you heard me right. Jada and Monica lock lips. The scripted reason for it seems like complete nonsense, so I'm chalking it up to pure Fan Service.

A complete shock to me, especially in a Teen rated video game, but no complaints here.

The Hacker mini-game is incredibly addictive. Set up like a classic DOS screen, you have to type in commands to work your way through a PC. Through this you can access unlocked FMV, pics, and cheats from the game. But you can also experience some interesting movie tie-ins, like a brief chat with Trinity (in which she will respond in limited fashion, but when my friend typed in an insult she responded back with a "Right back at ya! " ) as well as some "wav files" recorded by Neo himself when you dial in to his computer. There's also some Hacker stuff like solving a tile puzzle to hack in to a line and having to run a Tracekill program to stop an incoming trace. Cool stuff.

The racing sections are so-so. The exaggerated physics are fun, but they're overly long and tedious. The flying section is absolutely miserable, with some of the worst graphics in the game for the Sentinels and a distinct lack of gameplay. Worst of all is that the flying section is the climax to the game (well, at least Niobe's). Not only is it just not fun, but it's rather buggy too. 2 out of the 5 times I played the second of the three flying sections my hovercraft got stuck in a wall, causing me to reboot my Xbox. Pretty poor game testing there.

Graphically, it's so-so. Character models during the game are nice, well-animated, and interact really well with each other. But during cut-scenes they're often laughale. Environments are pretty plain, but there's a fair amount of destructible objects to throw an opponent into. The camera can be flaky, but most of the time it does an incredible job of not only keeping up with the often chaotic action, but also keeping it very cinematic. Most of the times you pull of a crazy Focus attack, the camera lets you watch it in all its glory. Glitches abound though, especially with the shadows which seem to randomly appear in the environments with no concern of light source. Then again, this IS the Matrix....

The sound is fantastic. The music alternates between movie themes, many instantly recognizable from the original Matrix, and driving techno. Real licensed music too, like Juno Reactor and Evanescense. And the 5.1 effects are everywhere.

Overall, the game is a bit rough around the edges but the fighting engine is truly revolutionary and instantly addictive for any fans of martial arts flicks. The shooting portions are decent, certainly on par with Dead To Rights (but slightly below Max Payne), but now that I've played through the game all I want to do is go back and fight hand-to-hand. The movie sequences are interesting if you're craving more of the Matrix side-stories, but the almost complete lack of Neo/Morpheus/Trinity and the abundance of talky exposition make them a once-through at best. Still, the fighting in this game is unparalleled, the game is loaded to the brim with "Omigod!" jaw-dropping moments, and the movie experience is well-captured.
Old 05-12-03, 04:51 AM
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The Matrix definetly has me the 15th, along with my wallet!
Old 05-12-03, 09:58 AM
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Where did you get the game???
Old 05-12-03, 10:23 AM
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I think I'm going to buy it at Best Buy, and if it sucks, sell it quick on Half.com for close to the sale price, and hang onto the $10 gift card. I've read mixed reviews, though.
Old 05-12-03, 10:26 AM
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Originally posted by Static Cling
I think I'm going to buy it at Best Buy, and if it sucks, sell it quick on Half.com for close to the sale price, and hang onto the $10 gift card. I've read mixed reviews, though.
are there any online reviews that you have seen?
Old 05-12-03, 10:28 AM
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schweeet!!!!!!!
Old 05-12-03, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for the good review. How many different characters can you play through the game with? I think I will pick this up tomorrow.
Old 05-12-03, 10:43 AM
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Damn, I had no intention of buying this but after such a glowing review i'll plunk down 50 for it, where is the best deal anyway?
Old 05-12-03, 11:21 AM
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Originally posted by huh?
are there any online reviews that you have seen?
Other personal reviews... nothing like GameSpy or GameSpot or anything.

Best deal for the game may be at Circuit City or Best Buy... both are offering $10 off cards with purchase of the game.
Old 05-12-03, 12:58 PM
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Tr y circuit city instead bestbuy

Enter The Matrix $49.99 Free $10 GC (also, Circuit City take Bestbuy $5 off coupon plus 10% lowest guarantee.

Enter the Matrix $49.99
---------------------$10.00 GC
---------------------$05.00 Best Buy Coupon
---------------------$05.00 Pricematch lowest prices
==================================
Final price--------$30.00 after GC, coupon & lowest price guarantee
Old 05-12-03, 01:42 PM
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Well, that's not right, Jtnguyen12. I guess there's a first time for everything.
1) Not all CC's take the BB gift cards.
2) Their price is equal to BB, therefore no pricematch difference
3) The 10% part is actually 10% off the difference, which in this case is $0.00, but is never very much (ie a $10 difference would be $11 off at at CC, not $15) and ususally a hassel to get anyway.
4) The $10 GC can't be applied to the purchase of the game, so you can think of getting it for $39.99 if you like, but really you're getting it for $49.99 and getting $10 off your next purchase, FWIW
Old 05-12-03, 02:28 PM
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Did they ship the game early? How'd you get it? I thought it wasn't coming out 'til the 15th.

and am I supposed to play this after I see the movie or before?
Old 05-12-03, 02:46 PM
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The game is street-dated the 15th, but most stores have them already (but can't sell them).

There are 2 characters to choose from initially, Niobe and Ghost. I have no idea if there are any hidden away, although there seems to be so MUCH stuff to discover I wouldn't doubt it. I'm kinda hoping for Seraph, the asian bodyguard of the Oracle, who has some killer moves when you fight against him in the game.

Regarding the "mixed reviews"...I haven't seen any actual reviews of the finished product, just previews which were admittedly mixed. That's why the game was such a complete surprise for me, because I went in expecting mediocre at best gameplay based on those previews. And the driving and flying parts definitely are. But the fighting (and to an extent, the shooting), which comprises most of the game, is so thrilling that I just can't see any action fan not flipping out over it. If it means anything, I've shown the game to around 13 people (at our weekly Halo party, heh) and all but one was simply blown away. The one voice of dissension didn't like the control on the XBox version and wanted to use a mouse/keyboard combo with the PC version. I will admit that circle strafing or making quick 90-degree turns can sometimes be a bit awkard on a gamepad, but everything else makes up for it.

The game is meant to be played after the movie. I say this because I have NO clue what the hell happened in the game story. Movie scenes and game situations would refer to characters I'd never heard of. The characters you play as are apparently supporting characters in the movie, and when they are off-screen in Matrix Reloaded, they're in Enter the Matrix. How exactly the storyline ties in I can't say (well, for a few more days at least), but it definitely assumes you know what's going on. And I don't.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what others think. I feel a little strange posting a review, because I assumed others had the game by now. I posted this same message on the XBox newsgroup and the bulk of the responses were of the "You're not a gamer, you're a Plant!" or "How did you play this already, you must have a bootleg." Neither of which are true (my posts on DVDTalk and my website should validate me, if nothing else). I tried not to gush too much over the game, because it's definitely a little rough around the edges and the flying sections of the game really DO bring the game to a screeching halt. But the *experience* is there, the cool factor is everywhere, and the hand-to-hand combat is so much fun that I'm praying there's a hidden 2-player mode.
Old 05-12-03, 03:06 PM
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This review and the $10 GC at BestBuy/CircuitCity makes this tempting to pick up. I was previously wary of it because of the mixed previews and the bad history of movie games in general. Now I wonder if I should get GC or PS2 version. Hmm.... Well I have until Saturday, it's not like it's going to sell out.
Old 05-12-03, 04:02 PM
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Supposedly there is a Revolutions Trailer when you beat the game!
Old 05-12-03, 06:22 PM
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Originally posted by goLUCKY
Supposedly there is a Revolutions Trailer when you beat the game!
Indeed there is. At first I thought it was footage from Reloaded, but absolutely none of it was in the trailer so I figured it was from Revolutions. It's about 30 seconds and shows some interesting events including:

Spoiler:

-Neo and Agent Smith facing off in a rainstorm, surrounded on both sides by hundreds of duplicate Smiths
-Agent Smith laughing in an exaggerated human style, making me wonder if he's going to go through a Data-style transformation


Fortunately, it's cut together like an actual movie teaser complete with driving techno and dramatic finish. I wonder if it's the teaser that's supposed to be after the end-credits to Reloaded?
Old 05-12-03, 06:49 PM
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Crap, looks like I'll have to plunk down my $50 - $5 gift card at Best Buy. Thanks a lot Lokise I am also debating the PS2 vs. Gamecube issue, so if anyone has any thoughts, please share. I read somewhere that the Gamecube version will be spread across two discs and the others will have one. Probably not an issue. Isn't it unusual for there to be NO official reviews up for a game this close to release?
Old 05-12-03, 06:59 PM
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yup, GCN is on two discs.

They haven't sent any review copies around....they want to keep the story under wraps.
Old 05-12-03, 07:27 PM
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Aren't the glowing reviews in Time and Maxim considered "official reviews"?
Old 05-12-03, 07:28 PM
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What did Time have to say?
Old 05-12-03, 07:42 PM
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"You're not a gamer, you're a Plant!"

hahah! they're getting really personal with the insults. Your a "Plant"?...(or is this some sort of new terminology I'm not familiar with?)

Anyone else pick this up yet? Which stores have broken the release date? Sounds pretty good but I think I'm still gonna wait for a bit. I'm in no hurry since I won't have time to see the movie until the weekend anyway.
Old 05-12-03, 08:11 PM
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Lokise, have you played it at 720p? If so, how does it look?
Old 05-12-03, 08:23 PM
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Originally posted by Outlaw
"You're not a gamer, you're a Plant!"

hahah! they're getting really personal with the insults. Your a "Plant"?...(or is this some sort of new terminology I'm not familiar with?)
You know that "plant" means that they think that a studio "planted" him on the message board to spread buzz for the game as if he were a regular guy, basically getting free advertising, right?
Old 05-12-03, 08:26 PM
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I've been playing the pc version for a bit and can barely bring myself to play anymore. The gameplay, gfx, sound, and controls are just plain awful. The only reason I play is because I feel I have to...its the Matrix Im praying that the console versions are much better, at least easier to control. Ill be renting it for the PS2 for sure, or the GC...whichever I can find. I advise any and all to saty FAR, FAR away from the PC version. I give it a 3/10...merely for the "matrix coolness' factor.
Old 05-12-03, 09:23 PM
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Right, Plant as in Shill. And I realize they're a reality these days...there have been a few on these message boards even. The difference is Plants have nothing negative to say (which I did) and they rarely "geek out" when discussing the game. Not to mention, they rarely respond to their thread.

720p....No I didn't. An HDTV-ready screen is the one missing component in my Gamign Setup. But keep in mind, except for the incredible Focus slow-mo effects, the game is visually pretty drab. Shiny obviously put emphasis on the gameplay and in particular the combat system. I did see the game running on a PS2, and the Focus effects were pared down and the camera seemed a bit more wonky. But again, it still played very well. Someone told me Enter The Matrix is the second game to run at 720p? If nothing else, I'm sure the video sequences look incredible.

XBox vs PS2 vs GC.... The GC version is 2 discs. Graphically I doubt the GC and Xbox versions are any different since the game is certainly not pushing the hardware (except when there are 5 or 6 enemies on screen, since the camera zooms right in as you fight). But the 5.1 sound in the XBox version is, as I said, incredible. Even the movie sequences are in 5.1, which is noticeable right from the first scene.

A few more review comments:

There are a few levels where you are being chased by Agents and have to literally run non-stop through building after building, up staircases, out windows, jumping from rooftop to rooftop. The classic opening to The Matrix is here in interactive form, and it's really a thrill. There's an arrow on the top of the screen which gives you the general direction to run, but you have no clue which doors are unlocked, or where an Agent can pop out. So it's really tense to be running almost blindly through alleyways, up ladders, bursting through doors and Focus cartwheeling off a wall to evade a pursuant Agent. When you play as Niobe, if you lose a fight against Seraph, you skip right to the end. If you beat him, you go through an extra 6 or 7 levels, including many of the Agent chases. It's a shame that there may be players who miss all that because they lose to Seraph. Also makes me wonder if there are other diverging paths throughout the game.

I have yet to play through with Ghost. Know why? Because I'm strangely addicted to the Training level which opens when you beat the game. I can't seem to get enough of the unlimited Focus fighting. One of the mini-games here gives you 3 minutes to knock as many opponents off the platform you're fighting on as possible, and this is pure gaming cocaine. The cinematic camera can sometimes lead to you jumping off the edge accidentally, but otherwise it's a blast.

Just a reminder...I'll have a full review up at my site when I get back from E3, probably Monday. I realize that will be after most people actually have the game, but along with the review will be a couple hundred photos I plan on taking at E3 and posting immediately. Three words: Booth Babes Page.

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